This past week, we were witness to one of the greatest U.S. women’s wrestling matches of the past several years, when Sasha Banks challenged Bailey for the NXT Women’s Championship in a thirty minute Iron Man match. Because it was in NXT, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. The women of NXT have been outworking many of the males on the main roster for some time now. However, this match brought me back a few weeks to another women’s match, Charlotte vs. Nikki Bella for the Divas Championship at Night of Champions. The match was decent enough, with Charlotte finally putting an end to Nikki’s lackluster title reign. It’s exactly how long Nikki Bella had the belt before losing it that really speaks to the problems with the WWE in general and the Divas division in particular.
The week before Night of Champions, Charlotte challenged Nikki for the championship. At that point, Nikki was just shy of becoming the longest reigning Divas Champion of all time. This prestige was previously held by the now retired AJ Lee. Charlotte won the match, but the decision was reversed due to interference. Stephanie McMahon demanded that Charlotte be given another opportunity at Night of Champions. Charlotte succeeded this time around, putting on an excellent performance as always and making her father, the Nature Boy Ric Flair, proud.
Nikki Bella’s loss put her championship reign at three hundred and one days, ensuring that she just passed the record setting two hundred and ninety-five day reign of AJ Lee. AJ, according to rumors, left the company frustrated because she was sick of playing politics with those at the top of the food chain. At the top of that food chain is Brie Bella, who is married to Daniel Bryan, a status that grants her some privilege. Also up there is Nikki Bella, who is dating John Cena. Cena’s been the top guy on the roster for the better part of a decade. The Bellas have some who would call themselves fans. Then there are those who feel that the Bellas have used their protected positions to skate by, working mediocre matches and putting on lackluster promos for quite some time. To say that WWE upper management had Nikki Bella lose the championship right then and there JUST to pass AJ’s record because they’re petty and vindictive doesn’t quite sum it up.
AJ Lee is also married to former WWE Champion CM Punk, a man who also left the company frustrated at the politics and lack of forward thinking by the powers that be. CM Punk also held the WWE Championship the longest of any superstar the past twenty five years, at four hundred and thirty-four days. Current champion Seth Rollins, who won the championship at Wrestlemania XXXI, is favored very much by upper management. Though fans seem to respect Rollins for his work ethic, it truly appears that he may keep the championship for a long while, perhaps even long enough to break Punk’s record. It isn’t unheard of at all. Brock Lesnar was once the youngest WWE Champion of all time. That all changed when Brock left WWE to pursue a career in the NFL, and then UFC. The WWE was not too thrilled about this and soon after, decided to hand Randy Orton the title, effectively removing Lesnar from the record books.
I have to question how decisions like this are allowed to stand within a publicly traded company. If we, the audience, can see the transparent nepotism, cronyism and politics going on backstage, then surely the stockholders do as well. If the pop that the women receive during the amazing NXT matches, as well as the ratings dropping during Bella’s segments of Raw are any indication, the audience wants women’s wrestlers, not Divas. That being the case, how long can the Bellas (and by proxy, John Cena and Vince McMahon) hold the Divas division hostage?